I took a shower in my downstairs bathroom last night. When I got out of the shower, I noticed something no homeowner wants to see. One of the tiles of the drop ceiling was water stained. It was over the sink, across the room from the shower, so it wasn’t just excessive splashing from my shower.
A little background. I just bought this house two and a half months ago. I bought the house and then immediately lost my job, so I’ve been basically stuck here all that time. I’ve come to know the place intimately very quickly, so I knew this was new and not something old I was just noticing.
I pushed up the ceiling tile. Or tried to. The drop ceiling is much too low, the tiles don’t actually pop up and out like they’re supposed to. But this tile was so water damaged it basically crumbled, and so I ended up just tearing it out. Now that the underside of the sub-floor was exposed, I could see three different possible culprits for the leak.
Two were copper pipes running across the ceiling. It was nice to see they were copper and not that older galvanized shit they used to put in houses a lot. The third was a PVC pipe that looked like a drain. Since the upstairs bathroom is right above the downstairs bathroom, I cleverly deduced that this was probably the upstairs tub drain.
There was no major dampness anywhere that I could tell, so it was probably not the water pipes themselves that were leaking. If they were, there would have been a lot more water and dampness, I figured. So that left the tub drain.
So I did what I always do when a home repair issue rears its ugly head. I ignored it. I went to bed and tried to forget about it. Maybe the problem would just magically go away?
I got up this morning and took a bath. After draining the tub and getting dressed, I went downstairs to check on the water situation. Unfortunately, the problem had not magically solved itself as I had hoped it would. Instead, there was water all over the floor under the missing tile. So, yeah. The tub drain needs fixing.
I briefly toyed with the idea of fixing it myself. I used my Google-fu to find some info on fixing leaky tub drains. I found several websites and a few videos. After a few minutes of reading about tools for removing tub drains and some stuff about plumber’s putty, I stopped. I’m a computer geek. I can fix and repair computers, but that’s about it. Every time I try a home improvement or DIY repair project, I fail miserably and end up breaking things. Sometimes my anger gets the best of me and I deliberately break things in frustration, thus making the problem worse rather than solving it.
So I did what guys like me do when they have these problems. I swallowed my pride and called a plumber. The first plumber I called said they couldn’t get anybody out to me until Monday. That’s no good, so I called another plumber. He was busy on a job, and said he’d call me back. He didn’t. I should have been a plumber. Or an electrician. Or a carpenter. It seems like those guys never lack for work!
While waiting for the second plumber to not call me back, I decided to put my troubleshooting skills to work. I’d read something about how there are various points in the drainage system that could be the problem, not just the main tub drain. So I tested it out by… taking a shower. I mean, why not? I’ve got nothing else to do. Afterwards I went back downstairs, and… no water!
So what does this mean? It means the tub drain doesn’t leak. That’s good! But where does the water come from then?
Turns out, from the tub overflow drain. The little drain under the lever that controls the plug. When I take a bath, the water overflows into that drain and then leaks out into the basement bathroom below.
So. My course of action was now clear. Stop taking baths. Problem solved! Check it out, I’m a plumber!!
As Red Green would say: It’s a temporary fix. Unless it works.